Natural Beauties: Homemade Gifts for Forgiving Friends

img_2005This project was fun and cheap, once we got our act together. Whether or not it allowed us to “give the gift of relaxation” is still up for debate. Our hurdles were not necessarily Martha’s fault (unless we can blame her for contributing to holiday chaos and sky-high expectations in general), and everyone seemed delighted with our presentation (no one has reportedly used the product yet, but it’s early). 

And so, verdict = Marthable.

We were originally going to make Martha’s lip balm in a rectangular slide tin because it reminded us of some strawberry lip stuff we coveted as kids. But we ultimately opted for the body scrub because it’s a “bigger” gift. After about two weeks of hemming and hawing and tending to our lives, we finally met at Ben Franklin at 6pm on a Tuesday, weak with hunger and flushed with work stress. Arriving early, I dug out a pack of nabs from my bag and traipsed through the store, nibbling on wheat ‘n cheese and leaving a trail of crumbs in the ornament aisle.  BF had jars sort of like Martha recommended but not exactly right. We considered plastic screw top containers, but they looked so cheap. And pipettes? Please.

img_1970We were this close to ditching the whole thing and going for pedicures, BUT the Kroger next door had 4-packs of pint-sized Ball canning jars! And a prominent display of Epsom salts! Three bags of salt, one bottle of sunflower oil, a canning funnel, and $25 later, we were back on track (although one of us did get a pedicure later). The grapefruit and peppermint essential oils were the big ticket items: $10+ each at the local organic grocer. For decoration, we bought a roll of white ribbon and lifted plain manilla tags from the office.

For labels (because people might want to know what this stuff is) I found 2.5″ diameter round adhesives at Office Depot , as recommended in The Guide, but img_1979Martha’s downloadable templates are a joke, unless you think a PDF of the picture in the magazine is helpful. I dismissed these and headed for, which has templates for each of its labels, but also is a little screwy. I can’t really explain what happened in words but let’s just say that obnoxious technical difficulties turned a simple one-hour job into a six-hour ordeal. In short, the labels wouldn’t save and they wouldn’t print fully. Key words would drop out, like “Grapefruit Mint.”  We ended up hand-writing in what didn’t print, which was fine because Susan’s penmanship is rather fancy, and she has nice pens. But really, COME ON Avery.

img_1981Henceforth, the project is quite simple: pour all ingredients into a bowl and stir with a spoon. But Martha calls for one cup of oil for every two cups of salt, which was way too soupy. We basically just added cups of the Epsom salt until the mixture became drier and less gloppy. We wanted it to be a scrub, not a salve. (Picture the ice that’s left in a Slurpee at the bottom of the cup after you’ve sucked all of the Coca-Cola flavored syrup out or a snow cone at the zoo, except made out of, er, salt.) It ended up being like 8 cups of salt for every 2 cups of oil, but perhaps different carrier oils mix differently with salt. Grapefruit and peppermint essential oils also were added “to taste”; about twice as much of the former as the latter.  A few drops of Susan’s red food coloring produced a perfect pink grapefruit hue.

The canning funnel made spooning the scrub into jars really easy, and we set about affixing labels, tying ribbons and attaching tags. We ran out of white ribbon and tried out a red velvet version, which also looked great, and some kitchen twine, which made for a cutesy rustic look of which Martha would surely approve.

As of this writing, we’ve distributed these concoctions to friends who are a.) delighted to be receiving homemade gifts scrub-red-ribbonand b.) seem slightly wary and bemused.  Maybe that’s because, after a few days, the liquid began to settle on the bottom and it didn’t look quite as good as the first night, so perhaps we’ll use even less oil next time. And the jury’s still out on how someone with soapy shower hands and shampoo in their eyes will be able to navigate a ball jar’s double lid, scoop out the scrub, replace the lids and set it back on the side of the tub without dropping the jar or slipping on the oil or both. We’ll expect to find out soon, either from a happy customer with extremely smooth skin or a forgiving friend with a giant bump on her head.



  1. Susan · December 23, 2008

    You know, it occurred to me yesterday that the product could conceivably be used as bath salts as well. Basically all we’re dealing with is salt and essential oils, so a scoop in the bath would probably work out just fine?

  2. Lesley · December 23, 2008

    Let’s give everyone scoops for New Year’s!

  3. lauren · March 18, 2009

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this stuff. It is the perect combination of salt/oil and leaves your skin so silky smooth. Oh, and did I mention it smells delicious! Marthables NAILED it!! It is like being blissfully taken away to a high end resort spa in your own shower. Thank you Marthables (I hope there is more to come)!

  4. Jackie · March 19, 2009

    I second Lauren’s comment – it smells awesome and the extra oil is an added bonus to use alone for shaving. Isn’t everyone you know crazed over lip balm? I think it would be a great gift – is it Christmas yet? I’m ready for more Marthables!

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